Main streets were once the automatic go-to for life’s necessities. They were anchored by independent retail stores – butcher, baker, hardware, grocer – run mainly by men and their families. But changing times were unkind to these downtown businesses as competition arose from retail chains and suburban malls. The number of farm families, once a dependable clientele, was diminishing, and many villagers and townspeople had become harried, dual-income households who commuted to work outside the community.
But changing times also brought in a new demographic, affluent ex-urbanites and weekenders, who not only had time and money to spend, but had moved to the country in a quest for the very sense of small-town community spirit and charm that old-style Main Street had traditionally offered. Their numbers were buttressed by “discovery shoppers,” day-trippers in search of unique gifts, home and food items. Opportunities opened up for a new kind of retailer to round out the street, and women leapt on board.
For many of these new business owners, a shop on the main street was an opportunity to add a second family income or launch a second career, one that allowed flexibility to accommodate family commitments or take on a new challenge when the kids had grown and flown. As a group the women brought their finely honed “feminine arts” to retail – a flair for service, marketing, presentation and event organization, along with a strong commitment to community.
Continue to read Julie Suzanne Pollock’s excellent article by clicking here
In response to the Washington Post article, “Can city life be exported to the suburbs?,” I think Jonathan O’Connell gets to his point at the end of the piece, that “town centers” built all at once by developers lack the fine grain and diversity that’s present in traditional commercial districts, but the headline misrepresents the point, which isn’t necessarily the issue of cities vs. suburbs, because cities and towns are urbanized, regardless of their location in center cities or in counties, the latter of which are termed suburbs.
While cities other than center cities, towns, and town centers and conurbations (town-like places that aren’t incorporated cities, such as Bethesda or Silver Spring in Montgomery County, Maryland or Towson in Baltimore County, Maryland), are located in counties (even center cities are typically located within counties, except in Virginia and in a few places certain cities function either as integrated city-counties like Philadelphia or as cities separate from a county, such as Baltimore City vs. Baltimore County), it’s not really helpful to call center cities cities and urban and everything else “suburbs” and “not urban.”
Continue reading this blog from Architectural Record by clicking here.
The mountain tourist town of Banff decided Monday to seek public debate on whether to limit the number of chain stores, in what one town councillor warns amounts to a bid to create a utopian village dominated by mom-and-pop shops with bad business models.
The retreat, with a population of fewer than 10,000, has some of the most expensive commercial real estate rents in the country, due in part to the influx of chain stores. A few small business owners say it’s becoming impossible to compete.
The debate has dominated Banff’s town council for more than a year. Last November, council voted against an all-out ban of large corporate chain stores, but on Monday, it supported taking a newly proposed bylaw that would institute quotas on franchises to first reading: That means the issue will be opened to a public hearing, expected in January.
Read more of Jen Gerson’s article in the National Post.
“America has too many big houses — 40 million, to be exact — because consumers are shifting preferences to condos, apartments and small homes, experts told the New Partners for Smart Growth Thursday, holding its 11th annual conference in San Diego through Sunday.
Relying on developers’ surveys, Chris Nelson, who heads the Metropolitan Research Center at the University of Utah, said 43 percent of Americans prefer traditional big, suburban homes but the rest don’t.
‘That means we are out of balance in terms of where the market is right now, let alone trending toward the future,’ he said.
He estimated that this demand suggests a need for 10 million more attached homes and 30 million more small homes on 4,000-square-foot lots or less. By contrast, demand for large-lot homes is 40 million less than currently available.”
Read the full article by clicking here: http://www.utsandiego.com/news/2012/feb/02/us-overbuilt-big-houses-planners-find/
Richard Martz, Vice President of Advisory Services here at LWLP, shared the following article with our team at LWLP last week. In his note, Richard made the excellent point that this article is reminiscent of our organization’s attitude: ”focusing on what we do great, and not trying to be everything to everyone.”
Here’s a sample of Greg McKeown’s thought-provoking article, The Disciplined Pursuit of Less:
“Why don’t successful people and organizations automatically become very successful? One important explanation is due to what I call “the clarity paradox,” which can be summed up in four predictable phases:
Phase 1: When we really have clarity of purpose, it leads to success.
Phase 2: When we have success, it leads to more options and opportunities.
Phase 3: When we have increased options and opportunities, it leads to diffused efforts.
Phase 4: Diffused efforts undermine the very clarity that led to our success in the first place.
Curiously, and overstating the point in order to make it, success is a catalyst for failure.
We can see this in companies that were once darlings of Wall Street, but later collapsed. In his book How the Mighty Fall, Jim Collins explored this phenomenon and found that one of the key reasons for these failures was that companies fell into ‘the undisciplined pursuit of more.’ It is true for companies and it is true for careers.”
Read McKeown’s full article on the Harvard Business Review by clicking here: http://blogs.hbr.org/cs/2012/08/the_disciplined_pursuit_of_less.html